Would you have a COVID jab? 95% of ZOE COVID Symptom Study users say yes

February 5, 2021

This article has not been updated recently

Vaccines have been developed at unprecedented speed to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccination rolls out across the UK, understandably there are concerns about safety making people feel hesitant about having a jab. 

Although they’ve been shown to be safe in tens of thousands of people in clinical trials and developed using established technology with a long term safety track record, these specific COVID vaccines are still very new. 

We know from clinical trials and our own research that there are after effects like tiredness and headaches for a day or two after the jab. And there have also been very rare reactions to the vaccine in people with severe allergies. 

However, there are rumours that may raise concerns, such as the idea that tens of thousands of sharks are being killed to make one of the ingredients (not true for any of the UK vaccines), or that the vaccines will alter your DNA (no they won’t).

Also, there is deliberate misinformation circulating on social media, including fake news about people dying after having the vaccine and completely unfounded conspiracy theories about microchips, Bill Gates and more.

So, is this putting people off having a COVID-19 vaccine?

To find out more about vaccine hesitancy, we asked users of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study to answer the question “Would you accept a COVID-19 vaccine if offered one?”

Here’s what we found.

Explore our interactive hesitancy map

95% of ZOE COVID Symptom Study app users would have a COVID-19 jab

Over a million people responded to our survey, with nearly 95% saying ‘yes’ they would have a vaccine, 4.5% being ‘unsure’ and almost 1% answering ‘no’.

This ‘yes’ figure is higher than other studies that have explored attitudes to vaccination - such as the OCEANS study which found that 72% of people would have a COVID-19 jab - and probably reflects the fact that ZOE app users are more likely to be engaged with science and research than the general population.

Even so, it’s reassuring to know that so many people are willing to have a COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones and the wider community to help end the pandemic.

Key worries are health effects and a lack of knowledge

For people who said they were unsure or wouldn’t have a vaccine, we then offered a range of reasons for them to select:

  • I took part in a vaccine trial
  • Religious reasons
  • Personal belief/philosophical reasons
  • Pregnancy/breastfeeding
  • Illness/medication
  • Concerned about long term side effects
  • Concerned about adverse reaction
  • Do not know enough about it
  • Do not think it will work
  • Do not think it will be available to me
  • Do not think it is necessary
  • Prefer not to say
  • Other 

The most common reasons were worries about long term health effects or having an adverse reaction to the jab, as well as a lack of knowledge about how the vaccines work. (You can find out more about how the different COVID-19 vaccines work in our handy blog post.) 

Graph: Reasons for hesitancy

Digging deeper into the data, we found that users who identified as Black were more likely to be hesitant than people from other ethnic backgrounds, as were people from more socially deprived areas, and that people aged 18-50 were more likely to be hesitant than those who were older.

People aged 18-25 were more likely to say that they felt the vaccine was unnecessary or unlikely to be available for them compared with other age groups, while those over 80 were most concerned about having a reaction to the jab.

For men, the fourth most common reason for hesitancy after long term effects, reactions or lack of knowledge, while pregnancy or breastfeeding was the fourth reason for women, followed by concerns about availability.

Graph: Reasons for hesitancy in males
Graph: Reasons for hesitancy in females

What can we learn from this survey?

It’s reassuring that so many app users are willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help end the pandemic. And it’s important to know the reasons why some may be unsure or don’t want a vaccine at all.

Getting as much of the population vaccinated is going to be key to ending this pandemic sooner rather than later. To support this mission, we’re helping to address concerns around short and long term health effects of the vaccines through the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app - the world’s largest community-led study of COVID-19 vaccines in the world. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have already logged their vaccine, helping us to understand the after effects of the jab and get an early indication of how well it’s working to curb infections. 

We’re also providing information about COVID-19 and vaccines through our blog posts and webinars, offering people the opportunity to put their questions directly to leading experts. 

To make sure you’re getting the latest information and take part in life-saving scientific research download the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app today.

Stay safe and keep logging.

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